People have been educated to think of events in one chronological order, the past, present, and future, but does the past really not occur again? This essay illustrates how the past, present, and future are coexisting through time. The book Fabula Asiatica by Rodrigo Rey Rosa supports this theory through its story about three foreign students who are trying to save the world, but they must go back to past events to be successful on their mission. It is also further explored through technology, social media, and the Mayan culture.
We are taught to only see events in chronological order: the past, present, and future. Although we may compare past events to present-day events, we normally don’t envision a past event taking place again in the future. The book Fabula Asiatica by Rodrigo Rey Rosa challenges how the past and present can coexist as multiple temporalities instead of it being chronological. Through, Mayan culture and technology, there is still a part of the past that coexists within the present time. The book Fabula Asiatica tells the story of three foreign students who are described to be very intelligent based on their background stories for each character. Xeno, Abdelkrin, and Pacal meet for the first time in California and come up with a mission to create rings around the earth to destroy satellites and end human suffering by eliminating global communication.
The book jumps through time from 1999 to 2014 where the points earth seems to be suffering from the loss of technology and hundreds of satellites from seventy countries are orbiting the planet. The earth is slowly becoming an unsafe place to live in, and the three genius students are trying to save it. Throughout their mission, Abdelkrim’s father is also trying to access files from a memory card that possibly holds a piece to his son’s destiny, but he is having some trouble trying to access the files due to the loss of technology on earth. Abdelkrim’s father hands the memory card to a Mexican character, whose name is never mentioned. This character is believed to be followed by multiple people due to his possession of the files. He then finds himself reunited with Xeno, Pacal, and Abdelkrim. They then later realize that he is a part of their mission because he is one of the greatest writers on earth and they want him to write about this mission once it has taken place. The book shows that with time there is no chronological order; this can be seen in the article “The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde” by Peter Osborne.
Osborne discusses the concept of modernity with historical examples on society, femininity, and politics. Throughout his article, he argues the belief that history should only be seen in chronological order by showing that what is seen as modern could be approached as postmodern in another context.
Osborne discusses the concept of modernity with historical examples on society, femininity, and politics. Throughout his article, he argues the belief that history should only be seen in chronological order by showing that what is seen as modern could be approached as postmodern in another context. Osborne states, “The problem of legitimacy is latent in its claim to carry out a radical break with tradition, and in the incongruity between this claim and the reality of history, which can never begin entirely new. It is this problem of legitimacy that underlies the recent attraction of the term postmodern.” (Osborne 11). He illustrates how in history something may appear to be new or modern but in reality, it is a repetition of the past that is happening again in the present time. This can relate to Rey Rosa’s book because it shows how three geniuses created an idea to make a satellite that will destroy all the other satellites orbiting the earth. However, this wouldn’t be the first time that a satellite was made to orbit. It is as if another idea was created but with the concept of an event that already took place which then creates a non-chronological order because the past is still coexisting with an idea of another satellite being brought into the future.
Osborne’s theory can also be seen through the use of the Mayan calendar in 2012. The Mayan Calendar had a cycle span of 5126 years. The last year on the Mayan calendar was the year 2012, which caused many people to believe that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. In “The 2012 Phenomenon New Age Appropriation of an Ancient Mayan Calendar” Robert K. Sitler, discusses how the ending of the Mayan calendar affected more than just the Mayan community. Sitler says, “...Only recently, a man in India believed by some to be Kalki, the Kalki Yuga’s incarnation of Lord Vishnu, predicted the beginning of a new stage in human consciousness beginning in the year 2012. Along with this self-proclaimed avatar, a growing number of people especially came with a New Age orientation, are convinced that humanity will soon undergo a fundamental transformation.” (Sitler 34).
This illustrates how the past can still coexist with the present because it still impacted people even though the Mayan calendar began in 3114 B.C.E., people believed that the world would end in 2012. The Mayan calendar is mainly followed by the Mayan community because today people regularly use a twelve-month calendar. Even though this is the case, the Mayan calendar still impacted the present day because people feared that the world would end in 2012. Osborne’s theory connects with this because it shows how the concept of a calendar is not entirely new and how a calendar created a long time ago can still affect the present day. Rey Rosa’s novel also shows this because the twelve-month calendar is not the first calendar created. The Mayan calendar may not be the calendar that people follow today but it does coexist with the present because people still followed the belief of the world ending.
The Mayans have also influenced many other aspects of life, not just through the form of a calendar but through the form of architecture. In “Mesoamerican modernism: William Carlos Williams and the archaeological imagination” Stephen M. Park talks about the influence of Mayan culture in architecture. Park talks about Stacy-Judd, who is an architect very much interested and influenced by the Mayan civilization and created the Aztec Hotel located in Washington, D.C. It says, “...Stacy’s- Judd’s obsessive and flamboyant use of the Mayan tropes throughout his work allows us to see more clearly the archaeological desire that ran through the projects of the Mayan Revival more generally.” (Park 7). Stacy-Judd was inspired and influenced by the Mayan culture. His work shows how the past can coexist with the present because his architecture work designs already have been created but are now created in another form by him. This supports Rey Rosa’s novel and Osborne’s theory because it shows how the idea of a Mayan building is from the past but is brought back into the present in another form. The Mayans have created many temples and buildings that have influenced the present-day thus illustrates how there is no chronological order on time. The Aztec Hotel will not be the same as the Mayan temples created but it isn’t the first time that a building has been created which shows how the past is still part of today. Is creating a building similar to the Mayan temples a certain choice people are making, or is it the only choice we have because we can’t seem to imagine a building molded differently through the human eye?
In “Framing the End of the Species: Images Without Bodies” by Claire Colebrook, the article relates to Rey Rosa’s book because it discusses three senses of extinction which are the extinction of other species by humans, the self-extinction of humans, and the extinction of the environment. She uses the three senses of extinction to show that if we want to see the world in another form of way, we must imagine the human eye as a machine. Colebrook believes that the human eye only sees a window and acts like a camera which is why we must imagine an eye machine to see the world in another form. She points out that people are born into a world that already has its own beliefs which makes it difficult to see the world from another perspective. The human eye sees and relates events or objects to what the past has taught us. This creates a kind of block to what can be imagined for the future. The present is then influenced by old events which then leads to coexists and a non-chronological order of events. Rey Rosa also shows how the earth seems to be ending with people being sick from all the harm caused on the planet which creates the belief that they should imagine the future from another perspective. However, it’s really difficult to do so because they imagine the past beginning again. Xeno, Pacal, and Abdelkrim can also relate to this because they are trying to destroy the satellites but are determined to go back to the past. However, they don’t try to reimagine a different future.
Humans tend to research past events when trying to create something new, making it seem as if we are only going back towards the past. Technology has been idealized as the gateway of escaping the past and entering the future but is that the only future we see because we can only imagine humans as being the dominant ones in any form of text?
Referring back to the past can also be found in how people seek to find remedies for the ill by testing Mayan traditional medicines. In “Screening of plants used in Mayan traditional medicine to treat cancer-like symptoms” by Edgar Caamal-Fuentes, Luis W Torres-Tapia, Paulino Sima-Polanco, Sergio R. Paraza- Sanchez and Rosa Moo-Puc, the article talks about a study that tested some Mayan plant traditional medicines to see if they can treat cancer-like symptoms. The plants tested were no more than ten chemically studied. The plants included were native plants of the Yucatan Peninsula and plants that are normally used for skin disorders by the Mayan community. It states, “From 51 plants found in the literature used for the treatment of symptoms that are suggestive of cancer, 21 were chosen (Table 1) and 30 were not selected (Table 2). The two main criteria applied to exclude these species were that they are exotic plants and extensive studies of these plants already exist.” (Fuentes et al. 720). This demonstrates Colebrook’s theory of the human eye only being able to see the world through one perspective because scientists are trying to seek medicine to treat cancer-like symptoms and aren’t looking for another way to create new medicine.
Instead, they are going back to medicines that were used in the past to find a cure for a disease that didn’t exist when these medicines were created by the Mayans. The human eye must act as a machine to be able to look for another way to create medicine to cure cancer-like symptoms. People or, in this case, scientists go back to old remedies to find a cure which proves that they are stuck in only seeking a solution that has already been created. This also relates to the novel because past remedies from the Mayan community are coexisting with the present day which shows that there is a non-chronological order of the past, present, and future. Scientists could’ve tried to come up with another form of medicine but decided to seek a cure through the use of Mayan medicine. Making Mayan remedies that were used in the past, coexist with diseases that are highly tested and focused on today. Humans tend to research past events when trying to create something new, making it seem as if we are only going back towards the past. Technology has been idealized as the gateway of escaping the past and entering the future but is that the only future we see because we can only imagine humans as being the dominant ones in any form of text?
In the introduction of Theory and the Disappearing Future: On de Man and Benjamin, Claire Colebrook compares De Man’s and Benjamin’s points of view of the future in a literary text. The introduction mentions who De Man is and some of his opinions on literary texts specifically on Benjamin’s work and politics. De Man believed that the future in all text would always have humans in it but what we should try to see is a future without us in a text. He demonstrates how we are always going back and forth when we are looking into what the future can be. For instance, “For de Man text, language, history of rhetoric are not entities or single systems so much as a condition: a condition of splitting. We exist within text, always belated and always negotiating of signs and differences; however, we never live that system as dispersed...” (Cohen et al. 7). He illustrates how we should possibly see Benjamin’s work as a secondary text because it can be seen as another form of an original text. In the novel, the three geniuses are talking about how it would be great to start all over again and let the earth go back to the Stone Age points because then, they can have a fresh new start. But could this be possible? De Man notes that we only view the text as humans. Rey Rosa’s literary text still imagines a future but with humans still existing. It may appear to be the same as in the past, but humans would still be viewed as the dominant species on earth. There would still be an influence of the events that took place if the world would begin again and there was no technology. Xeno, Pacal, and Abdelkrim can destroy technology, but despite that, the present-day still coexists with the past because people go back to how the world was without any electronics or internet.
Rey Rosa’s last chapters talk about how the Mexican was being followed due to his possession of the memory files that Abdelkrim’s father gave to him. The Mexican is later rejoined with Abdelkrim and Xeno. He lets them know that he is being followed but Abdelkrim lets him know that he trusts him with his files even though Xeno didn’t want to. The Mexican later wakes up in Turkey very confused and doesn’t know how he ended up there. He is then escorted to a party or an event by a woman who he has never met but seems to find very attractive. She begins to introduce the Mexican by the last name Rubirosa. Rubirosa wasn’t the Mexican’s actual last name but many people knew who he was from that last name and were very happy to finally meet him. Throughout this event, the Mexican seemed very lost and wasn’t sure why people knew him by that last name and why they viewed him as one of the most amazing writers. People knew him by their use of technology but didn’t know his actual last name. However, if his actual last name was revealed, would people have viewed him differently because of the information they know about Mexicans through technology? Technology can shape us to only see what’s on the internet about a particular person or place. We believe what the internet shows us and let it guide us to know what something stands for. For instance, if a person isn’t sure about the culture of a specific country, they will search it up through technology and will believe what the internet is showing them.
Many people get their assumption on culture through technology. In the introduction of Studies in the Humanities, Judith Villa, Lindsey Claire Smith, and Penelope Kesley talk about how the Mayan community is perceived through popular culture, specifically in films such as Apocalypto and The New World. These movies are inspired and based on Mayan stories but are also exaggerated to create more of an impact on the audience. These films are and can sometimes appear on television channels which is a technology item that most people have in their homes. This makes it very easy for people to see past events that are perceived in films about the Mayan culture. The text says, “Gibson’s film barely hints at the vast size (1/4 million) and the geographic parameters (2 miles by 2 miles) of histories Aztec Tenochtitlan, Present-day Mexico City. All this is lost despite a rather laborious march of Apocalypto’s main character, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood...” (Villa et al. 130).
This shows how only a certain part of Mayan culture is portrayed in these films which can affect what people believe about the Mayans and how it makes the Mayan community visible. The Mayan community didn’t appreciate how Gibson perceived them in the film because it affected the way others viewed them. Technology has a way of bringing past events into the present day. Although most of the film’s projection of the Mayans wasn’t correct it affected the way people saw them. This relates to Rey Rosa’s novel because this reason could’ve been why the Mexican’s actual last name wasn’t used when he was introduced. The people at the event would’ve viewed him differently because of his culture’s history or because of his access to Abdelkrim’s memory files. There is no way of escaping the past which is why it is still coexisting in the present day. Furthermore, when a person sees an object, they view it as what technology has taught them to see it as.
Subsequently in Colebrook’s theory on De Man and Benjamin if technology stopped working and people still existed, they would go back to how the past was. With no technology existing the Mayans would still be viewed based on their history because people would still know about their culture. The whole world would go back to the past if they were still the dominant species. Colebrook’s theory also shows how Gibson’s film is just a secondary text and not an original text. It clearly shows how past events are coexisting in the present day because Gibson still perceived his ideas from Mayan culture. Mayan history is cocreated in a different form in the film but is still coexisting in the present. People are co-creating events and ideas and there is no way of escaping it because technology blocks us from seeing different. Technology can take humans back into the past when new forms of technology start to malfunction and the only solution to the problem is to go back to the old form of technology. Gibson’s film is another way of showing how Mayans are still viewed by popular culture and how the past is still present because people are still creating films based on events that already took place.
In “Post-Anthropocentrism: Life beyond the Species: The Inhuman: Life beyond Death” by Rosi Braidotti, the article talks about thinking beyond the planet and how we see technology. Braidotti discusses this by using examples with death as a subject and the posthuman death theory. Briadotti states, “Moreover, the nature of the human-technological interaction has shifted towards a blurring of the boundaries between the genders, the races, and the species, following a trend that Lyotard, assesses as a distinctive feature of the contemporary inhuman condition.” (Braidotti 109). This relates to Rey Rosa’s novel because there is a certain lack of technology that isn’t allowing Abdelkrim’s father to access the files that he was given. Technology has now been able to control how time works and seems to be keeping people from thinking outside of past events. The novel supports this because without having the right technology, Abdelkrim’s father isn’t able to access the files which means that the technology that was needed probably didn’t exist. He had to go back to other old computers and technology to try to open them. Technology has a way of keeping people stuck in the past creating only one aspect of the future. This makes the future coexist with the past because we don’t think of another form to open a file; we go back to what has already been created.
In the last chapter of Rey Rosa’s novel, the Mexican is informed about Xeno, Abdelkrim, and Pacal’s mission. He is told that he will be joining them as well as writing the story about how they destroyed all the satellites orbiting the earth and created a ring. They let him know that they don’t have a name for their organization and that they aren’t working for anyone. Their mission is just to destroy all signals around the world. The Mexican has no clue what is going on, but he joins them in the rocket. At that moment, Xeno lets the Mexican know that he helped infect the internet by opening the memory cards and that everyone was looking for him, including his family. The Mexican is and was always part of their mission to destroy the satellites which caused him to have many enemies. The woman whose name is also never revealed tries to inform the Mexican that he is a big part of this mission and many people are looking for him. However, the Mexican is still questioning who he is running from. At that moment the Mexican thinks that he is a prisoner and later says out loud that he is a nobody. Technology can cause only one certain aspect of a place or culture to be seen which can then coexist in the present day because people will have access to it more than once; making it easier to remember. This relates to Braidotti’s theory because the Mexican thought that he was a prisoner since everyone else on earth was looking for him and believed what they saw through technology.
Braidotti’s theory can also be found today through the use of social media platforms and the internet. In “Introduction: ‘We are the uninvited” by Carolyn Guertin and Angi Buettner, the article talks about the influence of social media and how it plays a role in technology. For instance, “While social media dates back to the arrival of the Web 2.0 revolution in user-generated culture, it does have both low-tech and high-tech antecedents. There are several influential social media Cruz 11 antecedents. (Guertin and Buettner 380). This article talks about how technology can be a part of keeping the past in the present day and the future. On the internet, you can find artifacts that date back to when the web first began. Today, you also can find many other artifacts before there was any technology. The Mexican in Rey Rosa’s novel felt as if he was a nobody even though he was well-known by many as an amazing writer. If the Mexican was searched by his actual last name, he was well known on the internet for infecting it. However, by being searched by the name Rubirosa, he was well-known for being a great writer. This shows how the internet can still hold the past within the present. In the novel, people didn’t forgive the Mexican for infecting the internet even though it didn’t matter anymore because the satellites were destroyed. This also relates to Briadotti’s theory because it shows how technology continues to control the present. It has a way of keeping people stuck in the past because most of the files that are available on any kind of technology are old files.
The challenges that Xeno, Pacal, Abdelkrim go through in the novel demonstrate how the past is co-creating the future. Although they have come up with an idea to destroy all the satellites that are orbiting the earth, they still rely on past methods to accomplish their mission. The human eye has now and is stuck seeing only one outcome from this situation. This can be seen within the influence of Mayan culture and how it is still being used today to inspire the future. People are stuck cocreating past events that have occurred and searching for a remedy through medicines that have already existed for a very long time. This also shows how the human eye can only see one future or in this case only one solution. We have adopted a belief that there is only one solution. This is also another reason why people look back to find the answer because it is the only way to find a solution.
Many of us have been taught to see technology as the future but technology has been existing for so long. Based on the impact that the Mayan calendar had in 2012, technology has been able to keep the past in the present day. By following what the Mayan calendar believed to be a new beginning, we have recreated what has been viewed as history. Humans may be moving towards the future but are possibly only creating new perspectives of the past that are headed to the future. Technology also has a way to show that what we see as new, is just another form of what has been created in the past. We see certain objects and already know how to identify them because of our influence from the past. It’s as if we can’t escape what the past has taught us because it is still upon the present today.
Rey Rosa’s novel ends with the Mexican happily writing the book about the three geniuses and how they destroyed the satellites. Rosa shows his readers that humans can go back to how the world was before the technology existed and everything will be fine, or that we can create our present-day by remembering the past and not having to go back to creating more satellites. Past events are created again and again throughout time coexisting to what we now call the future or the present day. There will always be an object that shows a particular comparison to something that was already created. This doesn’t mean that humans don’t have the power to detach themselves from technology and try to see the world through a time that technology didn’t exist. There was no chronological order because the Mexican ended the mission and went back to how the past was but with knowledge about satellites. We must try to separate ourselves from technology and the influence of the past to try to imagine another creation of life. However, this can be very difficult because we are all made to believe that in life we are moving forward and never looking back.
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